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SGO and contact

Posted: Mon Aug 09, 2021 1:35 am
by Mandunited
July 2018 I was thrown out of the house into the road by my abusive husband, I slept rough a few nights, then a support worker from SMART found me and got me emergency accommodation. I was alone and terrified, I drank myself stupid. My daughter, 9 at the time was taken from the family home and put into care because of the DV.
Court proceedings started and the social worker asked if any family member would look after her, my eldest son and his girlfriend said they would. I didn't know what a SGO was, no one explained, in may my daughter went to live with my son in XXXXX.
The social worker was xxxxxxx, no kids of her own, and was very unprofessional at times, she saw the mental state I was in, crying all the time, the hovel I was living in but she offered no support at all.
Supervised contact with my daughter was every 6 weeks, I wasn't allowed in my sons house, I was so hurt and upset.
I was offered a 1 bed flat in XXXXX, no carpets, old sheets at the windows and an old 2nd hand couch. My drinking got worse and I tried to end my life, I woke up in hospital very poorly.
I was allocated a support worker and housing association started to support me. I missed my daughter so much my heart was breaking.
My daughter was upset and said 6 weeks contact was too long so my son changed it to 4 weekly, we had FGC in november and contact arrangements were agreed, her dad had to use a contact centre for the first 4 times because of his violence.
I started therapy for post traumatic stress, CBT and EMDR, still doing it.
Got all new furniture, carpets and curtains for my flat.
Haven't touched a drink in over a year.
And going through divorce proceedings.
My contact with my daughter was 10th july, I got a text from my son on the 3rd to say they decided to do 6 weekly supervised contact, so my contact was not till 24th july, I was distraught and hurt that he couldn't discuss it with me, he said he knew I'd be upset, I spoke to my daughter on the 7th july and she said they were going to a family wedding on the 10th, so I wasn't having contact anyway.
I've had alot of long winded text messages saying I'm not to buy her presents, keep contact in XXXXX cos that's where she lives, and they don't trust me yet to have unsupervised contact and I'm the cause of their mental health.
I've never missed a contact, never missed a maintenance payment, pay for all meals when we're out and just gave them £150 for uniform, as well as getting £150 of her dad.
I have no parental rights, and I'm so scared of going back to how I was.

Re: SGO and contact

Posted: Thu Aug 12, 2021 3:40 pm
by Suzie, FRG Adviser
Dear Mandunited,

Welcome to the parents’ board and thank you for your post.

You say in your post that you were thrown out of your home by your husband in 2018. This was an abusive relationship and you were supported into emergency accommodation. Your daughter, aged 9 at the time, was placed into care due to the domestic violence. Care proceedings were initiated and at the end of this, your daughter went to live with your eldest son and his girlfriend under a special guardianship order. You say that you did not know what this and it was not explained to you. You were granted supervised contact with your daughter every 6 weeks. Around this time, your living situation became worse, and you tried to end your life.

In November, a family group conference was held, and contact was agreed every 4 weeks. You are now accessing therapy, have improved your home situation and have not drank in a year. You are divorcing your husband. In July you were informed by your son that contact would return to every 6 and have been asked to not buy your daughter any presents, and that they do not trust you to have unsupervised contact. You say that you have never missed a contact or any maintenance payments. You are worried about things returning to how they were.

Firstly, you say that you do not have any parental rights – this is not the case with a special guardianship order. You still have parental responsibility for your daughter, which you now share with the special guardian – your son in this case. As the special guardian, your son has parental responsibility to the exclusion of all others, which means he has the final say in respect of matters relating to your daughter. Nevertheless, your son should endeavour to work with you to try and come to an agreement when you may disagree. Have a look at our SGO advice sheet for parents for more information.

It sounds as though you have made some positive progress in your life in the last year and you should be very pleased about this. It is encouraging that contact was increased at a family group conference last year. Your son should help your daughter maintain her relationship with you, whilst also ensuring that contact is safe and in her best interests. You do not mention any chance in circumstances since November last year and so it seems unusual that your son has now decided to reduce contact.

There are a number of things you can do to address this. Firstly, you could ask your son to meet you to discuss what his concerns are and to ask why he has reduced contact. If he has a particular worry, you may be able to reassure him or show him how you will keep your daughter safe. You could also contact the children’s services department responsible for the special guardianship order. Do you have a copy of your daughter’s SGO support plan? Does this include any help with contact arrangements? If not, you may want to request a review of the plan. Children’s services will be able to assess you as part of this and may agree to arranging another family group conference or funding family mediation. These are useful ways for the current issue to be discussed and for all parties to come to an agreement that works for everyone. I recommend that your read pages 7-8 on our SGO advice sheet for parents for some guidance of how to request support.

Alternatively, if you do not get anywhere with this, you may want to consider applying to the courts for a child arrangements order. This means that a judge will consider what contact you should have with your daughter and will make a decision based on her best interests – this might mean making a legal order stipulating how often contact should happen. You may want to seek legal advice on this – have a look at the Law Society website for specialist family solicitors in your area. You can also contact Child Law Advice on 0300 330 5480 or Rights of Women on 020 7251 6577 to discuss a child arrangements order application.

I hope you have found this helpful.

Best wishes,

Suzie.

Re: SGO and contact

Posted: Sat Aug 14, 2021 12:46 pm
by Mandunited
Thankyou for your advice, I've read the SGO advice for parents sheet and I did not receive any support at all as it says at the end, social worker can assess a parent and get help and support for them, if their child was looked after before SGO was granted. The SW treated me appallingly and made me look and feel worthless at every opportunity, I was in a dark place and I think she took advantage of that. The last resort is to go to court, my son has not spoke to me but has sent a few long text messages to say I can't be part of their decisions, they are a family of 3, and contact has changed because they want to spend more time as a family. I'm not allowed in their house for contact or am I allowed to use my house, so when the weather is bad it's really difficult, it's really affecting me mentally, I need some support to deal with all this I cant deal with it on my own, I don't know who to turn to .

Re: SGO and contact

Posted: Tue Aug 17, 2021 7:39 am
by Suzie, FRG Adviser
Dear Mandunited,

Thank you for your response. I can see this is a difficult situation for you and you are feeling helpless and unsure what to do.

Firstly, I think it would be a good step for you to contact the local authority's SGO team in order to discuss your current situation and to request an assessment of your needs. As I mentioned in my last post, they may be able to offer you support with contact.

Secondly, you can consider making an applications to the courts. Please do look at the Law Society website as mentioned above, and contact the organisations mentioned.

This is a difficult time and I can understand that you are feeling alone - do you have someone in real life that you can talk to about this, or a professional you may be working with who can listen to you? Remember, you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123 anytime that you may need to.

Best wishes,

Suzie.